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News And Notes From Toronto Argonauts Practice For Week Three

The Toronto Argonauts were on the practice field for the first time this week. Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told the media today that his decision on who starts at QB in week three won’t be decided until tomorrow.

Today, Nick Arbuckle took first-team reps in preparation for the Boatmen’s home opener this Saturday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The expectation is that Arbuckle will be leading the Argos offence at BMO Field in week 3. Ryan Dinwiddie says that he wanted to allow Arbuckle to play extensively with the first team in Tuesday’s practice. The reasoning is that he hasn’t done that for quite some time due to a hamstring injury that Arbuckle has been recovering from since July. The injury caused Arbuckle to miss meaningful reps and both team scrimmages in camp.

As Dinwiddie informed the media, the plan is to make a judgment after reassessing how Arbuckle performs and holds up in the first two practices of the week.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson will still get some reps at QB this week in practice.

To his credit, despite some key scoring chances that MBT misfired on in week two’s contest with Winnipeg. Ryan Dinwiddie was quick to defend Bethel-Thompson’s struggles last Friday. The newly-minted head coach told the media that the team’s offensive struggles and lack of success were by no means Bethel-Thompson’s fault. That other issues around Bethel-Thompson contributed to the Argos offensive struggles.

The 33-year old journeyman quarterback has been in this situation before. Even during the 2019 season, where he eventually led the CFL in majors, there were several occasions where the Argos previous staff either benched McLeod or split his in-game reps. Bethel-Thompson has experience taking a back seat or splitting reps at the QB position, dating back to his early playing days as a true freshman at UCLA before transferring to Sacramento State. So the experience is nothing new for him. MBT will need to stay ready at a moment’s notice again when presumably, the Argonauts officially announce Nick Arbuckle as their starting quarterback on Wednesday.

Update On Toronto Argonauts Injuries Heading Into The Home Opener

When it comes to the injury of Argonauts’ star receiver Juwan Brescasion, there’s an old saying that goes, “sometimes no news is good news.” Hopefully, that glass half full quote holds some water in the coming days. On Tuesday, Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told the media that there isn’t a definitive timeline on the knee injury that Juwan Brescasin suffered late in the fourth quarter of Toronto’s loss to Winnipeg in week 2.

Juwan Brescasin is supposed to have his knee scoped soon, and the results will determine how severe the injury is and how lengthy Brescasin’s absence will be. They say that players know their bodies best. And coach Dinwiddie revealed that Brescasin is optimistic about his outlook and feels that he will only be on the shelf for a few weeks. But until the results come back from his scope, the team or the player won’t know for sure.

Another key player who went down to a knee injury for the Boatmen in week two was starting left tackle, Dejon Allen. The CFL rookie, despite his injury, also has a positive outlook on his readiness for this weekend’s game. That’s something that he told his coach today. Allen wants to play on Saturday and feels that he can push through the pain.

Perhaps, Dejon Allen is borrowing a page and some inspiration from his fellow linemate, Philip Blake. The CFL veteran guard has been battling a shoulder injury but has toughed it out in recent weeks. And Blake has been one of the most inspirational players on the team to this point. Not only has he moved to centre to help cover for the loss of Cody Speller, but Blake has acted as a mentor in the trenches to fellow Canadian Peter Nicastro. The rookie has benefitted from working with Blake on and off the field. Last Saturday, one of the CFL’s best guards, Blake, had to move over to the blindside and play left tackle when Dejon Allen went down mid-game to injury. The Argos have had many great additions to their roster since the 2019 season ended, but they added a winner in Blake, both on and off the field.

One of the players who the Argos had high expectations for in their secondary is Arjen Colquhoun. The young CFL vet has yet to debut for his new team because of a hamstring injury. But according to coach Ryan Dinwiddie, Colquhoun is getting closer to making his mark in the Boatmen’s secondary. Projected as one of the team’s top starters on the back end of their defence when camp ended, Colquhoun’s return could provide a significant boost to a secondary that has surprisingly gotten great production from newcomers Jamal Peters and Treston Decoud. Argos defensive backs coach Joshua Bell deserves a lot of credit for coaching up these CFL neophytes, which have been thrown into the fire early on and have responded well.

The Argonauts also have injury concerns on their defensive line with Drake Nevis and Shane Ray sidelined. Kony Ealy, who had an elbow injury in week two, might miss some time. He didn’t practice on Tuesday. On Tuesday, one of the potential reinforcements, CFL veteran DE Odell Willis revealed on social media that he has been released. A week ago, Willis returned to practice from a personal leave of absence.

New Argonauts Debuts And An Old Argo Returns

In recent acquisitions, WR Cam Phillips and OT Terry Poole, the Boatmen have two in-house options waiting in the wings to potentially replace or fill in for Brescasin and Allen in the offence.

On Feb 8, 2020, in Houston, TX, USA, Houston Roughnecks wide receiver Cam Phillips (14) ran with the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Wildcats in an XFL football game at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Former XFL and Houston Roughnecks superstar wide receiver Cam Phillips and his former teammate in Houston, LT Terry Poole, have worked hard to get acclimated to their new surroundings in Toronto and with the Argos offence and staff. Toronto acquired both players before the season started.

Phillips is the more recent of the two acquisitions. Acquired off of waivers from division-rival Hamilton. Phillips was on the Boatmen’s practice roster this past weekend. But when asked by CFL Newshub today, Ryan Dinwiddie indicated that Phillps could be elevated to the active roster for Saturday’s home opener. Dinwiddie says that he is happy with Phillips’s progress and praised him for his hard work in picking up the offensive system in such a short time. The sure-handed Phillips who broke pass-catching records at Virginia Tech has been working at several different receiver positions in Dinwiddie’s offence in practice. Phillips is getting a crash course on what it is like to play receiver in a CFL offence. On Saturday, he might get a chance to experience the CFL style of play in regular-season action.

Pro Football Focus rated CFL newcomer Terry Poole as the third-highest graded lineman in the XFL. The other two players ranked ahead of him are currently on NFL rosters. Poole, the former Seattle Seahawks draft pick, protected the blindside of XFL standout and current Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker. With Dejon Allen, another former XFL player, on the mend, from injury, it’s possible that Poole, who has spent the past couple of weeks on the sidelines, could be inserted into the starting lineup against Winnipeg. It would be quite the task for the CFL newcomer to have to square up against Willie Jefferson on Saturday potentially.

Terry Poole was acquired from Winnipeg in the Alden Darby trade a month ago. And ironically, both players, who have been on their respective team’s injured lists, could be debuting against each other on Saturday.

Alden Darby was a Toronto Argonaut from 2017 up until he was traded away last month. It would be fitting for his debut for the Blue Bombers to come against his former team in BMO Field. The risk-taking playmaker, a beloved figure by many Argos fans and the Toronto community, had 56 tackles and five interceptions in 17 games with the Boatmen in 2019.

The change in defensive philosophy and an entirely new defensive coaching staff, coupled with a pressing need at left tackle due to Isiah Cage’s injury, led to the Boatmen parting ways with one of their most popular players from seasons past. On Saturday, Alden Darby provided that he is healthy and ready to go might get the opportunity to show the Args brass why they made a mistake letting him go.

Favored Son Returns To Be A Voice For The Argos

Another beloved figure who is returning home to Toronto to assume a new role this weekend is former Argos receiver Natey Adjei. On Tuesday, the Toronto Argonauts and TSN Radio 1050 announced that Adjei would be calling games alongside long-time play-by-play announcer Mike Hogan on their radio broadcasts starting this Saturday.

From today’s press statement released by the team to the media;

Adjei, a Toronto native, was drafted 22nd overall by his hometown Argonauts in the 2013 CFL Draft and played two seasons (2014-2015) and a total of 32 games for the Boatmen. The St. Joseph Secondary School (Mississauga) alum would go on to play four seasons in Edmonton (2016-2019), playing in 66 games while catching 86 balls for 801 yards and three touchdowns. The 31-year-old would re-join the Argos in 2020 but became a free agent after a canceled season and would sign with the Montreal Alouettes in 2021 before choosing to retire prior to the start of the 2021 CFL season.

The always-smiling Adjei kept busy during 2020 and prepared for life after football by starting his own podcast, The All Ball Podcast, which included guests such as Argos GM Michael Clemons, former Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, TV personality Cabbie Richards, CFL legend Ricky Ray and more. Adjei continued to hone his new craft by appearing numerous times on TSN radio shows to talk sports and life over the course of the last two years on top of the countless interviews he was a part of during his playing days. The former University of Buffalo Bull’s knowledge and passion for the game, coupled with his relationships with current players and coaches around the league, will make for a dynamic addition to the booth for Argos games. Adjei will join play-by-play voice Mike Hogan, who is entering his 16th season calling Argos games, and whose experience in broadcasting and depth of knowledge with Toronto Argonauts and Canadian Football League history will aid Adjei’s transition from the field to the broadcast booth.

“When Natey told me he was retiring, I was sad to see his career end, but am beyond thrilled I’ll be able to work with him,” said Argos’ play-by-play voice and Manager, Communications Mike Hogan. “He is absolutely the perfect fit for the broadcast. He brings knowledge, enthusiasm, a hunger to become an even better broadcaster, and a longtime passion for Argo football. He’ll be sensational.”

Listen to Mike and Natey this Saturday on TSN 1050 when the Toronto Argonauts take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 4:00 p.m. ET right here at BMO Field.

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